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Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

blowing bubbles

The internet is full of homemade bubble mixture recipes, and to be honest, they are all very similar. It irks me to pay for this stuff in a store, and I don’t want to be more annoyed when the container gets knocked over (because it always gets knocked over). So we make it at home.

This recipe is the most reliable I’ve found so far, but still requires some sitting time, so make it the night before you’d like to use it.

2 cups warm tap water
2 tbsp Dawn dishwashing soap
2 tbsp glycerin (available in the pharmacy, look for the shelf by the rubbing alcohol)
1 tbsp sugar

Mix gently, and then leave to sit in an open container overnight. Sugar makes the mixture a bit more robust, but also stickier. Our house is always vaguely sticky due to beekeeping activities, but if yours is cleaner, you might want to stick to outside bubble blowing with this one.

 

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The time we planted an orchard on the roof.

The time we planted an orchard on the roof.

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I like telling people about our orchard, the 42 fruit trees in our rooftop garden, and watching their eyes go wide.

Forty-two trees?

Well yes, but they are on dwarf root stock, so they grow in pots.

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We partnered with TreeCity/TreeKeepers to procure our trees, pots and soil. One Saturday morning, a large group of us moved our trees from the basement to the roof, and planted all of them in pots. We have figs, pears, apples and crabapples spread out throughout our garden.

It will be a couple of years before they produce fruit, at the very earliest, but in the meantime the bees will be very pleased with the flowers.

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It’s funny, in the past few weeks, a duck has nested in our garden, and then we waddled down five flights of stairs to the ground and walked a block to the pond in the park. We’ve planted fruit trees, started some of our spring crops, worked with our bees to make sure they’re set up for the spring nectar flows – you would never know we are deep in the city.

The pot with the string running to the roof in the first photo is actually hops, we have some keen microbrewers in our co-op. 

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Happy 10 years of Music Monday

Happy 10 years of Music Monday

Today is the anniversary of the Music Monday campaign, celebrating the importance of music in our lives, especially in our schools. Last year, my son and I had the incredible experience of witnessing Commander Chris Hadfield perform the song above on a live link from the International Space Station at Science World, as well as hearing some incredible local school musicians perform.

Having the chance to learn music in school made so many other things possible for me. I went on to learn six different instruments, perform in concert bands, orchestras, pit orchestras for musicals, and jazz bands. I ended up working at one of the biggest arts centres in the world, due in no small part to those programmes. Possibly even more critical, it made high school livable.

So take a moment today to think about music in your life, and do what you can to keep music education happening in our schools. To get you started, visit the Access to Music Foundation for British Columbian youth.

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Five tips for geocaching with kids

Five tips for geocaching with kids

geocaching with kids

Like many preschoolers, my son seems to have an unusual attachment to the Newtonian laws of motion. Getting him outside can be hard, but then getting him dressed is hard. Once he’s rolling out the door, however, he can’t stop jumping up and down.

This spring we’ve taken to geocaching, or as my son calls it, treasure hunting.

After downloading an app on your phone, you can view the treasures (or caches) around your neighbourhood. Suddenly there’s all these little things hidden everywhere and you had no idea. It’s one of my favourite things about geocaching, revealing that other layer.

Generally, a cache is a small tupperware box with little toys and things in it, as well as a small pad for writing your name and the date on it. Some caches are tiny and only have the logbook, or a tightly rolled piece of paper to record your name.

Here are some things we’ve found that makes going on a geocache treasure hunt a bit easier:

1. Bring something to trade. Caching etiquette is to take something and leave something of equal or greater value behind – so best to have a stash of dollar store cars, marbles, and whatnot with you. Also bring a pen or a pencil for writing your entry in a nanocache, as they don’t usually have anything in there but the log sheet.

2. Research before you go. Caches can take awhile to find, as they’re ingeniously hidden. Before we head out as a family, we (meaning the parents, often the night before) research the caches we’re going to look for, which includes reading all the hints, and checking all the photos. This isn’t strictly the way you’re supposed to do it – but when you’ve got small people jumping up and down next to you, 20 minutes of nuanced searching is not really going to happen. Sometimes, too, you’re required to climb to a less-than-safe spot, or duck under fences, not particularly things I want to encourage in a 4-and-a-half year old. Obviously, you will know best what your kids are up for, and tailor this one to their ages.

3. Have a talk about failure. A conversation about the possibility of not finding any treasure is well worth having before you leave. Nothing like a meltdown in the middle of a busy area because there’s nothing there. That brings us to the next tip…

4. Pick an area with a few caches close together. If your first attempt doesn’t yield any treasure, having a back-up (or two) close by makes success more likely. And your smaller treasure hunting mates more keen on the outing the next time.

5. Just buy the app. There’s a website you can search, but the official $10 app is the best bet. Easy to use, clear and map-enabled, the app helps you keep track of caches you’ve already found. It may seem steep, but think about paying for a movie for the family, or a visit to a museum.

Do you look for geocaches with kids? What are your tips?

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Happy Earth Day from the bees

Happy Earth Day from the bees

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This past weekend I attended Bee School, so now I feel slightly less mystified by our bees. Slightly less! Our instructor said taking care of bees is more work than having a dog but less than a human child. I’d say that’s about accurate, having both a dog and a small child. We’re watching one hive raise their own queen right now, and it’s fascinating.

Do your part to protect our pollinators and avoid pesticides and fungicides in your garden. Want to know more about bee-friendly plants? Here’s a good guide for the climate around Vancouver and Seattle. I’m going to order some bee garden blend from Westcoast Seeds and do a little, er, guerrilla planting in the neighbourhood for the benefit of our bees, and our sister bees over at Science World.

Photo above: one of our beautiful honeybees on a pear blossom.

 

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